If you get paid biweekly, meaning every two weeks, it's often useful to know how much you'll be taking home from the office each pay period. You can divide your annual salary by the number of pay periods in a year to get your total biweekly pay, but you'll also want to make sure to account for taxes and other withholdings to get your take-home pay. You can also use a salary calculator program to do this.
Annual Salary and Biweekly Pay
Many jobs with steady hours, especially professional office jobs, quote salary in terms of an annual number. Salary isn't usually paid on an annual basis, however. Many jobs offer biweekly pay, meaning there will be roughly 26 pay periods in a year, since there are 52 total weeks in any given year.
Your offer letter from your job may tell you that you make, say, $65,000 or $38,000 per year, leading to the question "$65,000 a year is how much biweekly?" or "$38,000 a year is how much every 2 weeks?"
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You can check your paystubs if you've already been paid to see how much you get in a typical biweekly pay period, but you may also want to compute these numbers yourself to double-check your employer's work.
Gross and Net Pay
Your pay before withholdings for taxes and other costs are removed is known as your gross pay. Your pay after withholdings is your net pay. You may have withholdings beyond taxes such as for contributions to retirement funds, insurance premiums paid through work and similar contributions.
If you want to find your biweekly take-home pay to use for budgeting or other purposes, you will want to use your net pay, not your gross pay. You can determine this by consulting with your employer or examining documentation about how much you will pay in retirement and insurance costs, as well as Internal Revenue Service and state tax tables that can help you figure out what you will owe in income taxes.
You can find IRS withholding tables online that will tell you how much you can expect to have withheld from your biweekly paychecks for taxes based on your biweekly pay. First, compute your biweekly gross pay by dividing your annual salary by 26. Then, subtract any tax-deductible costs that may be withheld from your paycheck, such as 401(k) contributions. Then, use the withholding tables to look up your biweekly pay and see the amount the IRS says your employer should withhold and subtract that to get your biweekly net pay.
If you are evaluating a potential new job's salary, you may need to approximate costs such as insurance premiums or ask your potential employer for this information if you feel comfortable.
Factors Impacting Withholding
Your family status will also impact your tax withholding. To use the IRS withholding tables, you will need to know whether you are filing as single, married filing jointly, married filing separately or head of household. You will also need to know your total number of withholding allowances, which is computed using IRS Form W-4 using factors such as your number of tax dependents, such as any children you have. Use the W-4 form to compute this number and make sure the up-to-date form is on file with your employer so your employer also uses the correct number.
For example, for tax year 2019, a single person making $650 net pay per biweekly period and claiming no withholding allowances would see $54 withheld from each paycheck, while a married earner with a withholding allowance and the same net biweekly pay would see only $4 withheld, according to IRS tables.
If you live or work in states with income tax, or places with municipal income tax, you will also need to take these taxes into account. Consult your state tax authority for withholding tables or online calculators to find your state taxes based on your biweekly gross pay. Subtract these from your pay as well to find your biweekly net pay after both state and federal taxes.
Some costs for things like insurance and retirement contributions may be paid pre-tax, meaning you should deduct them from your gross pay before calculating your tax withholdings, while others may be post-tax, meaning you should subtract them after computing and subtracting taxes. Consult federal and state tax rules or your employer or a tax advisor for information on which are which.